For the Bulldogs, Johnson should add an experienced right-handed starter to the two dominant lefties in the Bulldog rotation. Johnson started nine games last season for Jefferson State, which advanced to the Junior College World Series. He finished the year with a 4-3 record and a 3.87 ERA.
"I had a pretty good year last year, and my coach was leaving too," Johnson said of how he ended up a Bulldog. "My coach called (MSU pitching) Coach Rock and he came over and watched. When they (MSU) offered me, I knew it was something I couldn't turn down."
The Bulldog name was enough to pull Johnson away from Alabama, but the biggest factor in his decision was just one name.
"I have grown up knowing about coach (Ron) Polk," Johnson said. "I knew he had left, but I didn't know he had come back to MSU. When I found out that I would get the chance to play for him (Polk) I was real excited. It is just special getting to play for a legend."
Before heading to Jefferson State, Johnson excelled on the high school level as well. During his senior season, Johnson posted a stellar 0.95 ERA in 73 1/3 innings. He also showed the dominant control that has MSU coaches excited, striking out 87 and walking only seven.
Baseball was not the only sport that Johnson participated in at Pleasant Grove High School, he also ran cross-country.
"Running cross-country really helped me to stay in shape and work on my conditioning," Johnson said. "It is important as a starter to have good endurance and leg strength, and running improved those things for me."
Johnson and Bulldog fans are hoping to see all of his past work combine for a solid year in the SEC. Bulldog coaches, comparing him to Greg Maddox, have already seen enough to put him in the starting rotation. Now Johnson just has to take care of this opportunity.
"Being compared to him (Maddox) is a great honor, he is one of the greatest," the six-foot right-hander said. "I have always focused on my control and really throwing my fastball and curve to spots. I am hoping I can continue that this year."
While his control and endurance will definitely help the Diamond Dawgs this season, the biggest impact could be his experience in big games.
"I got the start last season in the World Series for Jefferson State, and that is probably my best memory of baseball so far," Johnson said. "I know on this team I have to bring a little bit of leadership, but I am not a very loud guy. I just want to go out and work hard, and lead by example."
Saturday, he will get one of the biggest opportunities of his life, but Bulldog fans should rest easy because Johnson has not let many opportunities slip by.
Grant Alford is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. He is a student at Mississippi State University. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.